Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale - Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red AleTongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale

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very good

841 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 841
Reviews: 231
rAvg: 3.91
pDev: 11.51%
Wants: 81
Gots: 84 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 11-25-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 841 | Reviews: 231
Photo of PDXHops
2.43/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On tap in a shaker pint. Slightly hazy reddish amber with a smallish but stubborn head. Scattered streaks of lacing.

Huge citric and caramel aromas, but they're overwhelmed by an even more powerful alcohol presence. The taste is similarly frustrating, surprisingly even more boozy than it smells. Kind of a weird doughy tanginess as well. A great citrusy hop profile and scorching bitterness battle for attention, but this battle creates anything but a smooth drinking experience. Something seems to have gone amiss here.

Photo of beer4colin
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ UBH The South Shore's Best Beer Bar

A - 12 oz pour comes with an ATYPICAL UBH pour. This pour has near 2 fingers of foam that dissipates fairly quickly.
S - sugary caramel, cream soda?
T - This a very interesting glass. Very big toasted caramel start runs into warm boozy butterscotch. An expo soon od creamy foam. This beer rocks.
MF - coating but not burning considering the ABV.
OA - this is a one of a kinder! Have to take it easy on these!

Photo of thagr81us
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from tap into a sampler shaker. Poured red-orange with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet amtl, citrus, citrus hop, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, citrus, citrus hop, grapefruit, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice brew. Nice aroma going on here and a very complex flavor. This one made the citrus shine throughout. The alcohol on the followthrough was very noticeable. Everything seemed to work really well together. A definite must try and a great example of the style.

Photo of djmichaelk
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at Dunedin House of Beer, served in a mini-pilsner.

A - Poured a very hazy reddish-auburn. Solid couple of fingers of head, with decent retention and bits of lacing.

S - Hops right off the bat, but backed with a lot of malt. There's toffee in there, which is strange to me for a red. It's not unpleasant, but the problem is that there just isn't much aroma at all. It might be the glassware, but it's still somewhat weak, taking a definite effort to get much at all.

T - Again, plenty of malt here. It's got a honey-sweet backbone, but topped with a hugely bitter, grapefruity hop kicker. The citrus is more rind than zest, which is the only thing keeping this from a top score for me. It has equally opposing flavors without being balanced, which... well, it just works for me. Great stuff.

M - Really, really full and thick. Carbonation is great, and keeps it from being syrupy. Medium-dry finish, mainly from the bitterness.

O - 40 taps in the bar, at least 20 solid ones, and this was the only beer I had more than once. Better beer than the sum of its scores.

Photo of notchucknorris
4.08/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Pizza Port Carlsbad

A: Hazy reddish hue with a thin, tan foam cap.

S: Pretty sizable citrus hops and a hint of caramel malts.

T: A pretty good hit of citrus hops upfront with a bit of a peppery bite, then some caramel malts and a slight breadiness on the finish. Not bad at all, but not Ballast's best.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A deep red to almost brown pour, amber, auburn somewhere in there, not much head to speak of on this one. Aroma wasn't as hoppy as hoped for, dry hopping could have been stronger.

Massive amount of caramel and toffee malt flavor is paired with an equally difficult bitterness. It lives up to the name tongue buckler, but comes off as if its sole point was to be bitter, rather than pleasantly bitter. Lacks complexity. Big malt, big bitter. Harsh at times, syrupy, but not so much that it has no place. This is one of those extreme beers that is basically just a doubling of everything normal to style, except the dry hopping here. Seems like a double hop boil, double malt by the poundage. The bitterness takes from a grapefruit hop characteristic, don't taste pine or a friendlier citrus thing going on.

Alcohol stays warm on you in this one.

Photo of Arknot
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at local beer bar last night.
At 5$ a glass, this is one dangerous brew!
Poured a creamy off red. The beer seemed to cascade for a moment before catching up with itself inch a nice creamy head.

Smell is sweet malt, dry alcohol, and bitter hops.

Taste seems to style, a nice strong red ale with a big abv (which means strong malt/hop to balance things out). You could have almost called this a barleywine or sweet DIPA. Hops are all over the finish.

Mouthfeel is SMOOTH and super creamy with a bitter finish. Its seriously silky smooth, with a bitter spike on the back of your tongue on the finish.

My second beer was an Orkney SkullSplitter, which I've had countless times, and this beer made every sip of my Skullsplitter have a hoppy finish as well!

Photo of garuda
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep amber body, thin white cap that has good retention and good lacing.

S/T - Grapefruit and piney hops backed up strongly by sweet caramel malts. Smells and tastes of dark dried fruits become apparent as it warms, along with the alcohol burn. Finish has a resinous bitterness that lingers on the sides of the tongue and back of the mouth.

M - Full body, medium carbonation creates a heavy, creamy body with hop oils coating the mouth.Starts off well, but as it warms, it becomes a bit syrupy and the alcohol burn heats up.

O - I really enjoyed the first half of this drink, but then it became reminiscent of the DFH 90 Min, which isn't a good thing for me. Very sweet caramel/fruit malts are too much for the hops to overcome. Alcohol burn is unsettling as well.

Photo of largadeer
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draft at Gourmet Haus Staudt, served in a 12 oz snifter.

Cloudy brownish-red with a frothy tan head. Lots of scattered lacing with solid head retention. Very resiny aroma, pine and crystal malt, grapefruit, light alcohol presence. Similar on the palate, not particularly sweet but heavy on crystal malts and sticky, resiny hops. Grapefruit, pine, plenty of lingering bitterness in the finish that balances the heaviness of the malt. Alcohol is fairly well-hidden, though there's a slight sting toward the finish. Very easy to drink for such a big beer.

Photo of beagle75
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft pour into one of the most generous sample glasses I've ever seen at Ballast Point Home Brew Mart in San Diego.

A: Clear, medium amber color with less than one finger of off-white foam. Moderate lacing remains on the glass.

S: Fruity and slightly roasty with orange citrus featured. No alcohol is detected.

T: Begins sweet, with juicy dark citrus, abundant candy toffee, and moderate acidity. The middle features roasted grain and faint moist earth. A fairly aggressive bitter presence marks the marks the finish, where malt continues to make itself known in a combination of toffee and husky roast. Drying grapefruit peel joins with the lingering bitterness late, and alcohol is not detected throughout.

M: Medium viscosity, sticky on the palate from resins and syrup, with low carbonation.

D: Malt-forward and boldly flavored, this imperial red ale leaves a definite impression on the beer-memory but is held back by the ever-present sweetness. Still, taken piece-by-piece most of its qualities hold up under scrutiny--especially the cleverly-hidden 10% abv--but taken together they fail to really wow.

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on-tap at the brewery, this beer was served in a pint glass. The beer was a hazy copper-orange coloring with a thin film of head. Citrus and booze on the nose, with caramelly sweet tones mixed in. The flavors were caramel and citrus sweet touching down on the front tongue, but they are quickly overpowered by bitter and sour flavors around the sides and back of the tongue. Caramel and sour characteristics stay through to the aftertaste. The beer is surprisingly light bodied, but the finish is in for the long haul. Booze accompanies all the flavors listed throughout here, but remains a supporting cast member throughout. Very interesting and tasty brew!

Photo of ehammond1
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

A deep and dark auburn red with a thin tan head. Leaves nice lacing.

Best part of this beer was its aroma. Pungent grapefruit burst followed by more citrus notes. A bit of sweet and caramel malt aroma as well. Pungent and powerful.

I can't taste the citrus hops as well as I hoped I might. Extremely bitter, though that should be expected with the name. Sweet, bready, and caramel malts do their best to match up, but this beer banks on bitter.

Thick mouthfeel. Heavy and substantial, which is appropriate given the style and the ABV, but there's no way to drink a lot of this, nor would I particularly want to.

A true tongue-buckler. This beer has earned its name, perhaps the most bitter non-DIPA I've ever had. Tasty, but not incredibly drinkable.

Photo of SDtastentune
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Red or brownish, cant remember exactly. No much head, or lace but there.

S - Smells of malts and caramel malts, somehops back there but not like an IPA

T- Taste is somewhat complex, think malty, grass/deep hops, red kinda beer flavor, kinda homebrew taste. Hard to explain.

M - Pretty great sipping a half pint fresh from BP, kinda lower carbonation, but well liked and balanced.

O - Nice, well rounded strong ale, malty, hoppy, and redish all at the same time, mixed in with a homebrew kinda vibe. Thumbs up for a different style!

Photo of mothman
2.51/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of beige head. Color is a dark orange amber. Decent retention with some lace rings.

Aroma: Dank weeds, floral hops, grapefruit citrus, caramel malts, and bready malts.

Taste: Bitter hops - floral and grassy. Pretty malty. Biscuits, caramel, and bready malts all show. Has some citrus fruits.

Mouthfeel: Dry and bitter. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and sticky.

Overall, the age shows a bit as it is malty. However, the hops really showed and that surprised me. Very bitter.

Photo of portia99
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle sent as a great extra in a trade with beernerd81. This has been a long time want of mine, so I am very thankful to finally get to try this one. Cheers Ben! Poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours a very pretty and super clear amber red color with a huge two fingers of long lasting cream colored head. The foam slowly fades away after a couple of minutes leaving tons of beautiful lacing on the glass and a thick skim coat that never fades away.

S - Getting a combination of caramel, some toasted malt, grapefruity citrus and pine with some alcohol and a light soapy aroma.

T - Very hoppy up front with an assertive bitterness that gives a slight medicinal and maybe a bit of a metallic aspect also. Pine and citrus hop flavors are prominent too. Some caramelly sweet malty flavors are firmly planted at the base with some contribution of breadiness and some toasted and medium-dark roasted malts as well. Bitterness is pretty harsh overall, even for the hophead that I am. Still very good overall.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation level. Carbonation is slightly prickly, but tends more towards the creamy feel. Mild to medium alcohol warmth. Hops are a bit harsh and coat the entire mouth with a sticky, resiny feel. Bitterness and alcohol warmth linger past the swallow.

D - Reminds me a bit of fresh Flying Mouflan. Strongly hoppy and bitter. Definitely lives up to the name - the bitterness is a bit bracing and in your face. I'm enjoying this beer, but it is certainly not an easy drinker...tends more towards being a sipper. I started the night with this bomber and I think this is where my night is going to end too. This 22 is a session in itself.

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kaiser81 for sending this beer my way.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with an off-white head. The aroma is caramel and toffee malts with some nice fruit tones. The aroma smells very sweet. The flavor is caramel and chocolate malt with a good amount of orange and pine hops. The malt backbone goes very well with the strong hop profile. Medium bitterness overall. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of biglite351
2.09/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - honey-brown and quite clear. Very tall tight head rant leaves a lot of lacing.

S - very hoppy with some grapefruit smell.

T - very not me brew. Hop heavy with some caramel in the depth.

M - a bit thin with a tingle in the back of the throat.

D - I could see why people would like this but it is not my bag.

Photo of ThirstyBird
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank you to stevemcqueenjr for the bottle!!

Pours a bright reddish brown with a compact tan head. Mild lacing. Off the nose I get malt, toffee and grapefruit. The taste is rich malt along with a the grapefruit hops. Mouthfeel is superb...Medium body and super smooth fine carbonation. Overall a very tasty imperial red.

Photo of Jwale73
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Thirstybird for sharing. Poured a copper-amber color with a semi-translucent clarity. Pour exposes a quarter inch off-white head that dissipates into a skim and a cluster of bubbles, but refreshes with a swirl. Some spots and strands of lacing exposed during the tasting. Nose reveals caramel, toffee and some grapefruit notes. Taste consistent with nose, all on a big, malty backbone. Mouthfeel was medium-bodied with a consistent background carbonation. I am really growing to appreciate Ambers, and Tongue Buckler is definitely a standard for the style.

Photo of metter98
3.81/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark amber in appearance and has just a few bubbles floating on the surface.
S: A distinct hoppy aroma dominates the smell. There are also some hints of caramel and toffee.
T: The taste very much follows the smell and is of bitter hops, although there is a good amount of balance in the flavors from the underlying caramel malts.
D: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and the finish is somewhat dry.
M: The alcohol content is well masked but this is a beer that tastes like it is strong and definitely needs to be sipped.

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at 38 Degrees

A: The pour is amber though it leans more toward red than anything else. The head has a slightly tan hue and leaves some nice lacing.

S: A blast of dank, juicy grapefruit is the first thing to hit the nose. The intense citrus and pine hop aroma lasts throughout the sniffing process, and is mixed with some brown sugar and caramel.

T: The hop flavors, particularly the grapefruit, are not quite as bitter as I would have expected. There is a definite sweetness to the beer, provided by some caramel malts and a brown sugar taste. There is some decent bitterness on the finish, however.

M: A medium to full bodied beer (for the style, anyway) with a crisp carbonation and bitter finish.

D: The alcohol doesn't necessarily show itself in the course of the smelling or tasting of the beer, but it does make itself known (and not surprising at 10%). Still a nice beer, but it can sneak up on you.

Photo of Kegatron
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ O'Briens (San Diego, CA) on 3/22/10. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear amber in the glass (this has a nice coppery sheen to it) with about a ½ finger of smooth off-white head. This retains with a fairly thin but still creamy look to it, which leaves a good bit of spotty and foamy lacing behind. The aroma is thick and very tangy upon first whiff, with a good bit of pine resins and tropical fruit character being propped up by a sticky backing of toasted bread and caramel malts. MAN, this is sweet and sticky feeling in the nose. Maybe a bit too so...

The taste is pretty much the same, with plenty of hoppy resins, bitter rinds, and spice present, as well as a sweet background of fruity citrus flavor, toffee, and even some light cocoa notes, which all just dominates the flavor profile at times. Much like the aroma, tangy sweetness mostly controls this but the hops do return in the finish, providing plenty of pine and spicy dryness. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a nice easy smoothness to the carbonation. Things feel a lot heavier and stickier underneath with some definite alcohol presence but luckily none of the taste is coming through.

This was a bit of a letdown from Ballast Point, coming off just way too sweet in it's profiles at times. I would have liked for those West Coast hops to shine just a wee bit more. That being said, this still had a very impressive mouthfeel for a 10% beer. This was overall decent but I expected just a little more here.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.04/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by chswimmer. Thanks Craig!

Seems like it was $12 at City Beer... Ouch.

A: Pours a reddish, orange-toned amber body with fluffy off-white head. Initially the cap is about 1", but over a minute or so it becomes a scattered cap. Some lacing down the sides during sips.

S: Wow, very hoppy. Pine-forward like a Douglas fir, this one, with a supplementary floral and cinnamon character. It reminds me of Nugget Nectar. And Nugget Nectar reminds me of... well, you can read my review of that one for the association. Caramel and light booze.

T: I pick up more malts here than I could in the aroma, but this is basically a lightly-ambered DIPA. Caramel, toffee, even a hint of chocolate. Pine flavors are aggressive and sharp, even dominant (maybe too much) at times. Perfumey floral hops are always around, but not quite as strong. Cinnamon contributes toward a drying finish.

M: Medium bodied with medium-plus carbonation. A little prickly on the palate, but otherwise enjoyable. A hint of booze in the aroma and a small burn on the taste.

D: Imperial reds are a funny beast; not too many people make them (that I'm aware of), especially in this area. I love the Lagunitas take on the style, and Nugget Nectar is good but falls short due to certain smell associations that this beer also shares. However, what kills the interest in this one for me is the $12 / bomber price. It's a good beer for the style, but when there's a beer I enjoy more that costs less, I'm not going to spend much time on this one.

Photo of foxbat2500
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Red like a red delicious apple. Nice foamy head. I love the way this beer looks.

Smell - Not huge, - a bit of hops and pine.

T - Kadony's review below is dead on. You get hit in waves - first with the hops. Then carmel and fruit. Lingered aftertaste maybe from the alcohol.

M & D - Really a very tasty treat, but its a pallet destroyer for sure. Pair it with a good meal.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber bottle into my tumbler. appears a hazed deep crimson amber color with a good two fingers of light rust colored foam. The head leaves a nice lacing in its wake. Nose and flavors consist of huge bitter citrus notes such as white and red grapefruit juice, pith , and peel, toasted sweet caramelized malts, pine, toffee, floral notes, certainly on the bitter side. Medium to full bodied with ample carbonation. Very bitter after each sip and swallow. Somewhat dry as well. Decent overall.

Tongue Buckler - Imperial Red Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 841 ratings.